UP-Cebu installs fences at fire-stricken area

(The Freeman) - December 31, 2015 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - The University of Philippines-Cebu has started fencing the area in Sitio Avocado, Barangay Lahug where a huge fire hit Saturday last week leaving over 200 families homeless.

UP-Cebu dean lawyer Liza Corro ordered the fencing of the 4,000-square meter property owned by the school. Lawyer Collin Rosell, chief of the Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor, tried to stop the fencing yesterday resulting in a verbal confrontation between him and Corro.

City Administrator Lucelle Mercado warned Corro that the city government will demolish the structure if UP would insist on fencing the area without securing a permit from the city.

Corro said the property will be used for its high school department.

“We are only here to ensure of enclosure of where we will be constructing the UP Cebu High School building,” Corro said.

She said all affected residents well be relocated to a province-owned lot in Nivel Hills. Corro said they have already made arrangement with the provincial government.

Corro questioned the city officials’ intervention, saying the city government has not addressed their concerns when they tried to visit City Hall on December 28.

According to Corro, the school engineer went to City Hall to ask for a dialogue to address all concerns about the property but was allegedly not entertained.

Acting mayor Edgardo Labella said the school administration should not be taking advantage of the misery of the fire victims.

“Sa ato pa diay, you take advantage to the misery of these victims? Nganong wala mana nila korala kaniadto nga wala pay sunog? Unya karong nasunog koralon nila? I think that is not proper,” Labella said.

Labella, a lawyer by profession, said the school administration cannot fence the area without securing fencing permit from the city government.

“Niadto silang Atty. Collin (Rosell, head of city’s Division for the Welfare of the Urban Poor) and (City Administrator Lucelle) Mercado informing them nga dili angay koralon kay firstly, kinahanglan pa sila og fencing permit from the city government. Second, you cannot just fence a disaster and calamity area. Imo gani ng koralon ang usa ka calamity area, that is like rubbing salt into a wound,” he said.

“While we are open for any discussion, but first things first. Ang atong unang atimanon karon ang kahimtang sa atong katawhan,” he added.

Even if UP-Cebu owns the property, he said they should seek fencing permit from the city government.

“At this point, let us not talk about that. Worst is that it is a holiday season. We are always open for discussion; there is no doubt about that. But, the problem now is that ang immediate concern is ang plight of the victims. I hope they will understand,” Labella said.

With this, he appealed to the UP-Cebu administration that they should wait for the proper time.

“We appeal to their sense of Christian values and charity,” he said.

Suspended Mayor Michael Rama pleaded to the administration of the school not to add more trouble to the fire victims.

 “If they (UP administration) are really an institution, things could be discussed with sanity. Things could be discussed with clarity. But, right now, do not make the victims more troubled,” Rama said.

“Let us look beyond that security of tenure cannot be addressed. Displacement can be very much avoided. That is why, we know how to handle this,” he added.

Meanwhile, one of the fire victims said she has resigned to the fact that her family is welcoming the New Year without a home.

Teresita Aray, 40, said she has been living in the area for 15 years already with her family.

“Ang akoa lang gyong gusto nga makabalik sa area kay dugay na kayo ming gapuyo sa lugar. Ang akong bana gikan pagkabata niya, diri na siya gapuyo,” she said.

Over 80 houses were razed by fire on December 26 leaving at least 200 families homeless. All the victims were given P10,000 financial assistance from the city government. — Jean Marvette A. Demecillo and Friensy G. Larawan, USJ-R Masscom Intern/FPL (FREEMAN)



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